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Al's 5.1.1 mix

Posted by Express128 Tx (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 24, 11 at 23:23

Alight, so I've repotted most of my plants with al's 5.1.1 mix. Does anyone know how long this mix will last before the pine barks, peat moss, ect break down and the potting mix will have to be replaced? I've read that the 5.1.1 doesn't last as long but no one gave an estimate on when it'll have to be changed.
Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

This is my first year with the 5:1:1 also, but from what I've read on this forum, it lasts basically 1 year.


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

The intended length of time is a year - or a growing season, essentially.

However, it *can* be "pressed into service" longer if needed. I have an outdoor Fern
that's been in the 5-1-1 for two years now, and the mix has not compacted. I also have
a few Maples and Buckeyes in the 5-1-1 that are going into their second year now.

Much of this depends upon how composted your bark is. I use uncomposted bark, so that buys
some extra time in the bucket, as it were. Highly composted bark will breakdown much
more rapidly, obviously.


Josh


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 25, 11 at 11:14

It really depends on your personal standards. Bark breaks down at a rate about 1/4 that of peat, and when you factor in the larger particles & reduced surface area of the bark used in the gritty mix & 5:1:1 mixes, it's much slower than that. Additionally, the roots actually become a part of the soil structure & help keep plantings' soils from collapsing. Reusing a soil from one planting in another planting is different than having a plant in the same soil for more than a year. It's not expecting too much if you wanted to keep the same plant in the 5:1:1 mix for 2 years, or even 3 if the soil mass is well colonized.

I will say though that with the gritty and 5:1:1 mixes, tight roots are usually a growth/vitality limiting factor BEFORE soil collapse is an issue, which sort of makes the answer to the question moot. I'm not being smart, at all, just trying to add some perspective. ;-)

AL


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

Thanks for the help guys. For some odd reason I was thinking 3-6 months..


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

Hi Al,
I'm new to the GW forum so if my questions have been answered elsewhere, please direct me.

I would like to grow vegetable transplants in 3 and 6-packs according to organic standards in a greenhouse using your 5.1.1 mix as pine fines are readily available to me. I have 2 questions:

1) Would you recommend substituting coconut coir for the peat?
2) Can you recommend an organic slow release fertilizer that could be used in this mix so that I would not have to use a liquid solution everytime I watered (the small containers will have to be watered at least daily, sometimes multiple times).


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 29, 11 at 9:33

Hey, Anndi - WELCOME!

1) Probably not. Coir's main advantage is its wetability, but it often has salinity issues as well as an extremely high K content. Its high pH also precludes using lime as a Ca/Mg source. Peat has none of these issues - and if you allow it to dry down to the point that rewetability comes to play as an issue - you already have problems anyway because you've let the medium dry down too much.

2) I can't help much with a fertilizer suggestion for you because I left organic nutritional sources behind a long time ago; that, because I found soluble fertilizers so much easier and more effective. I DO understand and respect anyone's wish to maintain an all organic ideology, but if there is a chink in your resolve, we should talk about it a little. Not wanting to bug you or offend, I'll leave initiating that conversation up to you. ;-)

AL


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

I'm not at all offended - it's just that I would like to be able to sell transplants to a local nursery that buys only transplants that have been grown according to organic standards.

Can you define "soluble fertilizers" for me? Is that the opposite of something granular included in the mix in order to be able to water with plain water since the cell packs dry out so quickly. It seems that watering with a liquid fertilizer solution every time the cell packs dry out would be impractical - very different from watering large containers.


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 29, 11 at 13:42

Soluble fertilizers are synthesized, often from urea for the N source, but also from a wide variety of other chemicals that contain the essential nutrients plants get from the soil. They mix with water immediately, and plants start taking them up as soon as they are applied. The considerable advantage you realize is the control over what your plants get and when they get it.

Fertilizers that supply their nutrients locked in organic molecules need to rely on soil organisms to cleave hydrocarbon chains and 'unlock' the nutrients by breaking them down into elemental forms. The problem with this is, the microorganism populations you must rely on are extremely variable in containers, being greatly affected by a number of factors, among them temperature, moisture and air volumes in the soil, pH, fertility, soil type ..... There is no way of telling if the N in the fertilizer that derives its N from feather or horn meal will give up its N today or a month from today.

There is no need to fertilize every time you water when using soluble fertilizers. It's a good strategy if you have only a few plants, but not requisite. I fertilize (usually) weekly in the summer, and every time I water in the winter.

Some granular fertilizers, like MG and FP, are soluble. Some granular fertilizers, like most granular lawn or garden fertilizers are 'slow-release' products because they are only marginally soluble. Most 'organic' fertilizers that get their N from organic sources are also slow-release because of the length of time it takes them to break down into elemental forms plants can assimilate.

When it's all said & done, plants 'eat' salts as the building blocks they use to make their own food and keep their metabolism humming. The nutrients they take up are in the same form, whether they came from a dead fish, blood/hoof/horn meal, or from a plastic container of Miracle-Gro. They don't know and don't care where their nutrients come from, as long as they get them.

Finally, I believe strongly in the adage "feed the soil not the plant ....... in my garden - but when it comes to container culture, what works best in the garden is often best left there. Container culture is much closer to hydroponics than growing in the earth, so it's not a big stretch to allow that it might take a different set of tools to achieve the best results.

There is a LOT of disagreement about what is and isn't acceptable insofar as fertilizers are concerned if you wish to be considered an 'organic' grower. I don't get involved with the politics because I don't care too much about it (bigger things to worry about), and I'm much closer to being a slave to results than ideology. You could probably get recommendations from the crowd at the organic gardening forum, but it's rare that there is ever much of a consensus when it comes to fertilizing containerized plants. Maybe fish emulsion would suit the application?

AL


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

Thanks so much for the info - it's exactly what I needed to proceed.


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

soluble means liquid right?


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

In this case, soluble means "dissolves in water", which generally implies that nutrient is directly/immediately available for the plant to take up. There are dry crystals or powdered fertilizers that you then mix with water (like miracle gro). The higher quality formulas with all the micronutrients included are only widely available in liquid concentrate form, for technical reasons... but powdered forms can be ordered online.


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

I recently read that "improperly stored" pine fines can develop a toxicity that can be fatal to plants potted in it. No explanation of proper storage was given. I have a large pile of pine fines stored in a concrete bin that I was planning to use in the 5.1.1 mix but now am concerned. Any information?


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, May 1, 11 at 12:44

Sometimes pine bark is windrowed in huge piles. As composting begins and particles start to gas out, )2 is pushed from the internal pore spaces and the process turns anaerobic, promoting the formation of organic acids (sharp decrease in pH) as well as other toxins that can build up in the bark. You should be safe, as long as it was dry when stored, or air can get to the center of your stash. ;-)

AL


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

Based on your reply, my pile is safe to use. But for my education, what if the toxins have built up - is the bark useless for a potting mix or can it be recovered by perhaps turning the pile or other means?


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, May 1, 11 at 20:43

It can be leached & allowed to partially compost with ample air and be used for the 5:1:1 mix.

Al


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

"Fertilizers that supply their nutrients locked in organic molecules need to rely on soil organisms to cleave hydrocarbon chains and 'unlock' the nutrients by breaking them down into elemental forms. The problem with this is, the microorganism populations you must rely on are extremely variable in containers, being greatly affected by a number of factors, among them temperature, moisture and air volumes in the soil, pH, fertility, soil type ....."
Well said.

Yes. To hold these populations of microbs to break down the organics you need soil that retains a good amount of water. And we all know the more the drainage the faster the plant grows. This is why I always have seen more results using synthetic fertilizer in potts because you can have extreme drainage not to worry about the colinies of microbs washing out.


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RE: Al's 5.1.1 mix

Many thanks to both Al and TheMasterGardener1.


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